Nov 1, 2011

Day 25 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read / No. 729: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Now that this book has been made into a Martin Scorsese film ("Hugo"), I may get my wish.  If the movie flops, however, it might be difficult to convince people to read this AMAZING book because people's minds tend to be made up by box office success. Plus it's being released in 3D, and I think we're all sick of 3D by now, so it could be a disaster.  Sigh.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick is one part historical fiction, one part adventure, one part mystery, and three parts awesome sauce, all shaken together and served with incredibly detailed and expressive pencil drawings and a side of prose. As it's a little over 500 pages long, it can look pretty intimidating to a young child reader (and an adult reader, let's be honest), but the majority of the book is made up of full page illustrations.  I didn't know it was part graphic novel prior to reading, which caused me to almost burst into tears at the library when I saw it on the shelf waiting for me the day before I needed to have it read for a class.  Good times.

Selznick tells the story of George Melies, pioneer filmmaker, through a young boy's (Hugo) discovery of an automaton that draws images from Melies' old films.  The text and illustrations are interdependent, meaning you need to spend as much time looking at and dissecting the images as you do reading the text in order to comprehend the full story.  And really, the images are so beautiful it's hard to look away. 

This novel makes wonderful pleasure reading material, but with the plethora of historical movie references, it's easy to pair this novel with history, film and even art lessons.  With the unique format, it's also easy to sneak in a lesson on narrative techniques and symbolism which is my favorite thing about this book aside from the, and I can't stress this enough, wondrous illustrations (it won the Caldecott for a reason).  I once wrote an essay on how shoes frame the novel as a symbol for both moving forward.  I got an A.  Go me.  I'd explain more, but to do so would result in severe spoilers, so just go read the book.  Or see the movie and then read the book.  Either way, reading the book is a must, especially if you love films, graphic novels, magic tricks, and fun. 
Also, go here for the cutest review of a book I've ever encountered.

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